“You were in the presence of true genius around Stanley,” says Kier Dullea, who you’ll recognise as time-and-space traveller Dr David Bowman in prescient 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (being re-released as part of the BFI’s sci fi season on 28 November). “He was supportive, quiet, never raised his voice and had a kind of droll sense of humour.”
Actors were willing to work for free, such was Kubrick’s reputation. And this included Gary Lockwood (Dr Frank Poole). “When my agent told me about the offer, I said, ‘Well, how much is it gonna cost me?’” Rather than tell the actors to “shut up” like Hitchcock would, Lockwood says that the director encouraged a free-for-all.
“It didn’t mean he’d use it,but he was open to ideas.” And what of Kubrick’s most memorable flourish? Did the cast quiz the director about one of cinema’s most mind-bending finales? To try to completely understand it, according to Dullea, is to miss the point. “The thing about Kubrick is he didn’t tie up the endings of his films into convenient knots,” he says.
It’s little wonder sci-fi, and Hollywood at large, is still trying to catch up.
As Dullea says: “Who could have guessed it would be studied in film school 50 years later?”
BFI Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder takes place at BFI Southbank and venues across the UK and runs until the end of 2014
(Image: All Star)